New Harry Gwala stadium a huge boost for PMB sport

2010-02-05 00:00

THE official opening of the new Harry Gwala Stadium tomorrow is an important milestone in the sporting history of our city.

Firstly, we have, for the first time, a stadium with more than 10 000 comfortable seats.

Secondly, we have, for the first time, 1 000 top-of-the-range floodlights, which allows for television coverage of night games.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we have a genuine soccer field, rather than a hard cricket field with a pitch in the middle, or a top-dressed rugby field. In fact, the new turf is the same as the one used for Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium.

It was installed, and will be maintained, by the company responsible for the Moses Mabhida turf.

Fourthly, the change rooms, media and VIP facilities are also first class.

A fifth consideration is that our city will now receive unprecedented national television coverage, as Maritzburg United put themselves and Pietermaritzburg on the map.

Soon, the largest crowds in the history of our city, will be attending soccer matches against the leading Premier Soccer League teams.

Sadly, our city is still starved when it comes to top-flight rugby and cricket.

Finally, our stadium is appropriately named after Themba “Harry” Gwala, who, in addition to being an icon of the liberation struggle, was an ardent soccer player, administrator and “the best referee on Robben Island”. Fittingly, his name was proposed, not by politicians but by the Midlands soccer fraternity.

Home grounds are supposed to become fortresses, in which visiting teams struggle to win, as a result of the never-say-die spirit of the supporters.

Somehow, I suspect that Gwala’s indomitable spirit will permeate the stadium, as Maritzburg United struggle, this season, to finish in the top eight of the PSL. Gwala will no doubt also preside over their efforts to strive for the top of the ladder next season.

The roar of the Lion of the Midlands will be heard again, commencing this Saturday night. Don’t miss it!

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